Ecumenical Day: UMC in full communion with Moravians, Uniting Church of Sweden

Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar (left) of the Boston Episcopal Area and Bishop Christian Alsted of the Nordic and Baltic Area, speak at a May 17 press conference on new ecumenical relationships between The United Methodist Church and the United Church of Sweden and the Moravian Church (Northern & Southern Provinces). The agreements were celebrated May 17 at the United Methodist 2016 Conference in Portland, Ore.

 

The General Conference of the United Methodist Church celebrated Ecumenical Day Tuesday by recognizing full communion with the northern and southern provinces of the Moravian Church and the Uniting Church of Sweden.

“We have really been in communion for a long time,” said Rev. J. Christian Giesler. Giesler is a bishop in the northern district of the Moravian Church.

He spoke with the media along with two United Methodist bishops and the leader of the Uniting Church of Norway at a press conference May 17 .

The connection between Moravians and the Methodist movement goes back to a journey across the Atlantic Ocean John Wesley made in 1736. As a storm threatened to sink the vessel,  “the Moravians calmly sang on,” John Wesley wrote in his journal. The connection between early Methodism and Moravians grew through music as well. “The hymnody of the Wesley brothers brings joy to us regularly in worship,” said Giesler.

Though The Uniting Church of Sweden is only four years old, it has deep roots in other protestant faiths. It was formed from The United Methodist Church, the Baptist Union of Sweden, and the Mission Covenant Church of Sweden.

Bishop Christian Alsted of the Northern Europe-Eurasia Episcopal Area said that close relationships in northern Europe are important. “We are in a very secular part of the world,” he said. “And Sweden is just across the water from me. It’s 30 minutes away. So working together really helps.”

The 200-year history of the African Methodist Episcopal Church was celebrated during morning worship.

 

Laura Harbert Allen, Managing Editor

Laura is an independent public radio and multimedia producer who makes stories in the documentary tradition. She served as communications director for the West Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church for seven years and has more than 20 years experience in public radio as an announcer, producer, program director, and general manager. She has also written about music for the Charleston Gazette-Mail, and done feature work for Wonderful West Virginia Magazine. Laura is married to the Rev. Jeff Allen. They live in Charleston, West Virginia.

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